Picking winning lottery numbers

I’m worried about the method that choses the numbers least likely to be chosen by other users, thus minimising the chance that I’ll have to share my winnings with someone else.

Surely, this just guarantees that I’ll share my winnings with all those other people clever enough to work out what the least likely combination of numbers will be? There will probably be thousands of them!

See here for existing thread which includes a link to the relevant column in the OP.

Let’s just go ahead and post the link to Cecil’s column–How can I pick the winning number in the lottery?

I’m surprised the column left out some “lottery winning tips” I keep hearing about.

I’ve been told more than once about an article that explained that winning lottery numbers contained consecutive numbers 70% of the time. Therefore, the people telling this concluded, you can increase you chance of winning by picking consecutive numbers.

The first time we heard this, my girlfriend and I, being mathy sorts (she more than I) scratched our head and set out to a quick estimation of probabilities. And found that, indeed, if you randomly pick 5 numbers from 42(ish - it’s been long enough that I don’t recall the exact numbers) possible, choosing each one once, you get at least two consecutive numbers around 70% of the time.

“Well, you just proved that it works!” our friend who told us about this “trick” declared.

Well, no. Exactly the opposite. That 70% of the time the winning numbers will have consecutive numbers is true, but completely useless to know.

This proves that 70% of the possible combinations include consecutive numbers.

It tells you NOTHING about which combination will be chosen.

Any specific combination without consecutive numbers is just as likely to be chosen as any specific combination with consecutive numbers - it’s just that there are MORE specific combinations with consecutive numbers.

See, this question just shows that anyone clever enough to use this brilliant technique (OP included), is simultaneously clever enough to NOT use this brilliant technique. It follows that the set of players choosing these numbers (other than by true random chance) must be the empty set, devoid of even the OP, thus showing that the OP really SHOULD pick those numbers, except that by definition he would only do that if he were sufficiently UN-clever, which he isn’t (unless he is) (and, in which case, the set of players choosing those numbers wouldn’t be empty after all).

Take heart, OP. As most SDMB Dopers well know, most other people aren’t very clever. So you’ll only be competing with the clever Dopers who will also be using that technique, who by definition are clever enough not to be throwing their money into the lottery black hole, but if they did, then they would be unclever and thus using that brilliant technique, but if they did that they would be clever enough not to be investing in the lottery in the first place.

Is there a sure fire way to pick the winning numbers of a lottery? There sure is!.

Just be sure to take a nice vacation abroad to celebrate your winnings right after you cash your check. Preferably to a place that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

How to pick winning numbers, I can’t tell you. But I can tell you that I’ve never ever picked numbers that lost.

[sub]Well, I’ve never picked numbers at all, so…[/sub]